SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
From “Mrs. Roosevelt does a TV commercial,” November 1963.
Booraem and I worked out the details, including Mrs. Roosevelt’s right to approve the text of the commercials. Two days later I presented the proposition to her. I had by now convinced myself that it was a fine idea. But I told her that she would probably be severely criticized for doing anything so undignified.
She asked for a day to think it over. I know that she consulted her confidential secretary, Maureen Corr, and two close friends, Joe and Trude Lash. All of them were very much against the idea. On the other hand, I had told Mrs. Roosevelt that if the commercial was successful she would no longer be “poison” to sponsors.
When I called to learn her decision, she logically detailed all the pros and cons. Finally she said, “With the amount of money I am to be paid I can save over six thousand lives. I don’t value my dignity that highly. Go ahead and make the arrangements.” I don’t know just what lives she was thinking of but I am sure children somewhere received the money– perhaps in Africa, Greece, or West Virginia.
Other brands trying to echo consumer anger include Post Shredded Wheat cereal, which declares in new ads that “Progress is overrated” and “Innovation is not your friend.” JetBlue Airways revels in the discomfort of chief executives forced off corporate jets by greeting them with a sardonic “Welcome aboard.” Miller High Life is being sold by a blue-collar character who delights in removing the beer from hoity-toity bars, restaurants and stores that he believes are shortchanging shoppers. And Harley-Davidson deplores “the stink of greed and billion-dollar bankruptcies” in a campaign that carries a rallying cry defiant enough to be unprintable in a family newspaper. “It felt like something that needed to be said,” said Jim Nelson, chief creative officer at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, the Interpublic Group agency that creates ads for Harley-Davidson. –“Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage,” Stuart Elliott, The New York Times
David Attenborough worries about overpopulation (9.1 billion by 2050); Paul Krugman worries about Chinese emissions; study: sea levels will only rise 10 feet, not 20, when Antarctica melts; Pacino to star in Gladwell’s Blink
Today, in addition to scientists, a whole range of others are seen as having “the future in their bones”: purveyors of speculative fiction in every medium; web entrepreneurs and social media gurus; geeks of all sorts; venture capitalists; kids who increasingly demand a role in constructing their (our) own cultural world. The modern humanities are turning their attention to these groups and their historical predecessors. As Shakespeare (we are now quick to note) was the popular entertainment of his day, we now look beyond traditional “literary fiction” to find the important cultural works of more recent decades. And in the popular culture of 1950s through to today, we can see, perhaps, that science was already seeping out much further from the social world of scientsts themselves than [C.P.] Snow and other promoters of the two cultures thesis could recognize– blinded, as they were, by the strict focus on what passed for high literature. –“The Two Cultures, 50 years later,” Sage Ross, Cliopatria: A group blog/History News Network
The influence of Chinese calligraphy is apparent– both in the vertical columns (the heavier white lines creating the impression of two scrolls) and the fluidity of the brush strokes. At the same time, the work– an unfinished wall with plaster– marks the breakdown of art and everyday life as written about by John Cage, who was influenced by the lectures of T.Z. Suzuki in the early 1950s. The artist’s anonymity marks a Zen-like remove from the ego of the Western artist. We can only assume that this anonymous artist experienced a direct exposure to the Orient, perhaps by visiting, at an early age, a restaurant (perhaps undergoing renovation) in San Francisco’s Chinatown. –Charles Bernstein
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”